Owner Involvement Desired
by Rivkah Roth DO DNM
Horsemanship starts with “reading” horses. Sadly this is a lost art these days where our lives no longer depend on the availability of a sound horse in body and mind.
So, there really was no guesswork when decades ago in Israel I was called a miracle worker or a witch doctor. Instead my troubleshooting and results were based on years of experience with horses of all breeds and all ages.
Recently a young Canadian horse reminded me all too much of the scrawny Arabian mare in the Negev desert that hadn’t been able to eat for several weeks. All I did there was knock off a molar cap that had become lodged between her newly growing teeth. Problem solved! Horse eating. Happy Owner. And a reputation started…
Sounds difficult? Not if all you need to know is that either your horse has the right age to change teeth or, in case of an older horse, assume an implanted stick or other foreign object. If good horses no longer are happily responding to riding there is always a reason. Oral issues are one possibility.
An owner recently requested my troubleshooting after her horse failed to bend to his previously good left side. Hoof problems were part of the suspected equation and so were a couple of musculoskeletal issues.
Once the horse arrived and was settling in his stall one of my first questions was about the way he was eating his hay. My horse radar was on alert. “No problem, he had his teeth done the previous week,” was an unconcerned response.
To me however, looking at a three-and-a-half year old that presented itself more like a two-and-a-half year old, that answer simply wasn’t convincing.
As with every Equiopathy consult I went all over her horse, to the owner’s amazement, literally from head to toe. Subsequently I mentored a young farrier through a meticulous corrective shoeing session and the next day the lovely young horse underwent specific equine osteopathy work.
But, most importantly, when I sent the horse home I asserted that in my humble opinion there were left-sided caps present that needed to be removed quickly. – You could actually feel them from the outside of the cheek the way they protruded into his flesh.
Now the story turns bizarre. The horse just had had some dental work done less than two weeks earlier. The owner called in a reluctant vet who quickly decided that the horse had no dental problems. After I urged the owner once more to get those caps removed, she called the clinic again and requested a different vet. On her visit, same answer, “nothing wrong.”
This time, however the owner didn’t take a no for a no and requested that the horse be sedated and a clamp be applied for a closer look.
“And the vet told me first there wasn’t any when she put her hand up his mouth!
Your voice was in the back of my mind and I told her she has to sedate him and put the clamp on his mouth and have a good look!!
Well boy! You should’ve seen the look on her face then!”
Well, as they say, the rest is history. These are the impacted caps the veterinarian needed to remove, including one (bottom left) that had started to grow into the poor horse’s cheek. In three vet visits the horse was assessed as having nothing wrong with its teeth, right?! What if there had been a less assertive owner?
I hope this story will serve as a stark reminder to horse owners to follow their gut. Continue to fight for your horses never mind what the professionals say. If something doesn’t feel right keep pushing – yes, no matter what the vet says – second and third opinions maybe cheaper than a horse in pain.
copyright Rivkah Roth DO DNM
Dr. Rivkah Roth is the founder of Equiopathy and a natural health practitioner, lecturer and author with over five decades in the saddle as a correction rider (Swiss National License LMS since 1968) and many hours as a National Grand Prix and FEI C dressage judge. Student successes include professional coaches on 5 continents (incl. CDN/EC I to III, ISR I to III, Dutch 3rd Level Instructor, USA, AUS), 1986 Dressage World Championships alternate (CDN), 1986 National GP Kuer Champion (CDN), 1992 Barcelona Olympics Longlist 3-Day (CDN), 2002 Young Horse Dressage World Championships – Verden/GER (ISR), World Cup and WEG dressage horse (CDN), many Nat. and Provincial Champions all levels (CDN / ISR / SUI).